Dee Hock, the founder and former CEO of Visa International, once stated: “I got interested in trying to understand how great leaders created enormous social change—take Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King. When you look back at their history…they were nobodies. Nobody! Gandhi was just a mediocre attorney who got thrown off a train into the dust …Mother Teresa—just an ordinary nun. And so I studied—what made their ideas so compelling?… They had the capacity to take that larger question of how things ought to be into the future and decide how they ought to be…Now, the interesting thing is that …they didn’t start by preaching it. They started by living as though it were already true…and once they began to live as though what ought to be was true, they had an authenticity that was just compelling… and then they talked about it.”
So, it stands to reason that with our own selves, the nobodies that we are, we could start our own trek to becoming leaders of enormous social change by merely living as though the way it ought to be were already true. Perhaps that is easier said than done, but before we say anything, we need to live the example. It sounds so easy and ends up being so elusively difficult. What is it that allows our great leaders to set the example for us all as the way things ought to be? In a word, it is intent.
Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of Evolve Your Brain, describes how intention, as put to use through the brain’s frontal lobe, can work wonders: “This power of intention is what we most admire about our heroes. Through them, we see the frontal lobe at work, inhibiting the need for immediate gratification by allowing the brain to maintain long-term goals. Martin Luther King, St. Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi…were all masters of the frontal lobe. They kept total focus on an intended outcome—a principle of freedom, honor, or love—and never wavered long from that ideal, no matter how difficult or chaotic the circumstances they faced… Their intent was clear, and it mattered more to them than any other considerations. Throughout history , our heroes have demonstrated total focus of thought and intention coupled with consistent behavior and action. In effect, they molded reality to match the internal image they constructed. This is what we secretly admire about greatness. It speak to our own potential.”
So how do we generate this kind of heroic intent in ourselves? To begin with, it’s all about habits. Break the old bad ones and create new good ones. It requires exercising a constant will to change. We have to truly want to be a different person and reprogram our thought processes to become that person we visualize. The new vision we set for ourselves shouldn’t be so exalted that it is out of reach, but then again, there is nothing that exalted about doing things the way they ought to be. It is a simple case of mind over matter and sticking to it, no matter what. As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeadtedly do. Excellence, then, is not an action, but a habit.” Who knows, becoming the superhero of our newly self-programmed mindset might not be as difficult as our old self ever imagined. If we try it, we just might like it. And then we might set a positive feedback loop in process to make it last long enough to talk about it.